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Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
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Protecting Plants From Freeze Takes Know-How

If ever there was a day to cut out of work early and get home before the sun goes down, today's the day. When the sun drops, so will the temperature, and covering plants is a whole lot easier without mittens on your hands. And yes, you should cover even if you think the freeze two weeks ago already wiped out everything. It's too early to tell whether many plants are dead or just beaten, bruised and broken. If you're praying for a semblance of spring resurrection, you should protect what's left. Since there's a good bit of effort involved, here are some tips to make sure you don't waste your time. * If you didn't get some of the past couple days' rain, hand water the plants you plan to cover. It helps them stand up to the tough night ahead.
* Pick up clothespins on the way home. They're great for "buttoning up" your plants' new overcoats. * Since a second freeze is forecast Thursday night, you'll want to leave the covers on till Friday. So DON'T use plastic! When the sun comes out tomorrow, plants that survived the night might burn up during the day. And that would be a shame. Raid the linen closet for sheets and tablecloths. * Make sure the cover extends all the way to the ground, which is soaking up the sun today; the cover traps that heat. If the cover does not go all the way to the ground, you're wasting your time. Since it's windy, anchor covers with rocks, gnomes, kids - whatever's handy. * Palms and trees too big to cover may benefit from a second dose of holiday celebration. Wrap the trunks with Christmas lights and leave them on all night. Very tender trees that can be covered will get added protection from those red and green flashers. * If you're going to bring in your pots, take a few extra steps and bring them all the way inside. The lanai may not be warm enough. And they just might enjoy watching "Lost" with you. * Cross your fingers.

Writer Penny Carnathan can be reached at pcarnathan@tampatrib.com.

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